When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, its armies advanced quickly through the Soviet republics on the Baltic Sea, as well as Belorussia and Ukraine, before entering the territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Hoping to win the war within a few months, the German forces were stopped near Moscow at the end of 1941. Unable to resume the offensive on the entire eastern front in the spring of 1942, they opted for a push towards the south-east, occupying all of Ukraine in the process and reaching the Northern Caucasus by August 1942. At this point, Germany had captured a vast geographical space between besieged Leningrad and the Northern Caucasus. All the German-occupied territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, including the Crimean Peninsula, came under German military administration. Most of it was liberated again by the Red Army in 1943. Soviet troops returned to the North Caucasus in January-February 1943 and to central-western Russia mainly in the summer and autumn of 1943. The western regions of the Soviet Union remained under German rule until 1944.
In 1939, some 109,000,000 people lived in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. On the eve of the invasion, there were some 207,000 Jews in the territories that were to come under German occupation, about one percent of the total population in that area. During the first months of the war, most Jews either managed to escape on their own, or they were evacuated by the Soviet government, generally to the Northern Caucasus and to southern Russia. Jewish evacuees were relocated to southern Russia until mid-December 1941. This area came under German occupation in 1942. Due to the speed of the German advance, however, and poor means of transportation, a considerable number of Jews could not get away in time and found themselves under German occupation. The German murder campaign against the Jews on Russian territory was carried out by the Einsatzgruppen. It started as early as summer 1941 in the northwest and in many places in the central-western region of Russia and lasted until the beginning of 1943. In the south-western territories of Russia, including the Northern Caucasus, which were occupied only between July and November 1942, the murder of the Jews began later and the period of extermination was very short. According to estimates, the extermination of the Jews in Russia between 1941 and 1943 left between 60,000 and 100,000 dead.
The senior authority in the archival system of Russia is the Federal Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv). Only the federal archives are under its actual authority. In other words, only those archives situated in Moscow – such as State Archives of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoy Federatsyi, GARF), the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsyalno-politicheskoy istorii, RGASPI), and others. There are also Ministerial archives, which are not subject to the authority of Rosarkhiv. Important examples include the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry (Tsentralnyi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony RF, TsAMO) and the archives of the security services. Access to these archives is heavily restricted. The Regional Archives are only partially subordinated to the Rosarkhiv as they largely depend on the local authorities.
EHRI Research (Summary)
EHRI has identified a number of helpful archival guides on Russia, some of which are available online. A list is provided in the extensive report. Preliminary contact with key Holocaust research and archival institutions in Russia has been established in order to facilitate future exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in the country. In order to identify the Russian archival institutions which store Holocaust-relevant resources, EHRI relied on expert knowledge readily available in EHRI’s partner institutions, such as Yad Vashem and the Warsaw-based Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, ŻIH). As a result, EHRI has identified over 50 archives which either certainly hold Holocaust-relevant material or can be expected to do so. While the full list can also be found in the extensive report, at least five central institutions should be named here:
the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF) in Moscow, which include the files of the Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee files as well as the Nuremberg Collection;
the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow, which hold the files of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the General Headquarters of the Partisans in the Soviet Union with reports on the occupied areas. Based on the results of a joint survey of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, EHRI has integrated several collection descriptions from RGASPI;
the Central Archives of the Russian Defence Ministry (TsAMO) in Podolsk, which hold reports from Red Army records (Main Political Administration of the Red Army, GLAVPUR) resembling those of the Partisan’s General HQ in RGASPI and store “trophy” (captured) documents mostly of German provenance;
the Russian State Military Archives (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv, RGVA), which house a large number of similarly captured collections not only of German provenance, but also many related to the Jewish communities in France, Belgium, Greece, Austria etc.; and
an extensive collection of interviews with local citizens and Red Army servicemen conducted right after the liberation of territories of the Soviet Union is held by the Scientific Archive of the Russian History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Regional archives hold local files generated by the abovementioned Extraordinary Commission, as well as material from local occupation administrations such as administrative files, lists of persecuted or displaced citizens, propaganda newspapers etc. Most documents related to Holocaust can be found in two types of collections: in the fond of local Extraordinary Commission and in the fond of Partisan movement. The Extraordinary Commission Fond is usually held by the central State archive, while the documents about partisan movement can be found in the former party archive. In the regional centers usually there are two archives: State archives and the former party archives.
EHRI Research (Extensive)
A. EHRI approach to Russia: Pre-existing research, available archival guides, expert support
EHRI’s exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in Russia was able to rely on some important pre-existing research in the field, which tends, however, to deal with “Russia” under the more general heading of the Soviet Union. Dieter Pohl’s Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht. Deutsche Militärbesatzung und einheimische Bevölkerung in der Sowjetunion 1941-1944 (2008) and Yitzhak Arad’s The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (2009), Ilja Al’tman’s Zhertvy nenavisti. Kholokost v SSSR, 1941-1945 (2002) which have made use of archival material Russia long before EHRI, should be mentioned.
EHRI was also able to identify a number of helpful archival guides, some of which are available online:
http://www.iisg.nl/abb/ for archives in Russia in general;
http://www.bsb-muenchen.de/mikro/litten.htm lists finding aids for the State Archives of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoy Federatsyi, GARF);
http://komiswow.ru is a website dedicated to the Commission on the History of the Great Patriotic War (also known as the Mints Commission) Archive
Some latest initiatives for digitizing documents should also be mentioned:
Furthermore, the following traditional archival guides, ordered by year of publication, are available:
 Al’tman, Ilya, Zhertvy nenavisti. Kholokost v SSSR, 1941-1945 (Moskva, fond “Kovcheg”)
 Kovalev, Boris, “Archivnye materialy FSB RF o kholokoste na okkupirovannoi territorii Rossii”, in: Kholokost: Novye issledovaniia i materialy (37, 2011: 26-34)
 Fishman, David, Mark Kupovetsky and Vladimir Kuzelenkov (eds.), Dokumenty po istorii i kulture evreev v trofeinykh kollektsiakh Rossiiskogo Gosudarstvennogo Voennogo arkhiva: Putevoditel (Jewish Documentary Sources Among the Trophy Collections of the Russian State Military Archive) (Moskva: RGGU, 2005)
 Evreiskiy Antifashistskiy Komitet v SSSR, 1941-1948: Dokumentirovannaya Istoriya (Moskva: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya)  Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy (ed.), Archives of Russia: A Directory and Bibliographic Guide to Holdings in Moscow and St. Petersburg (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2000, vol. 1-2)
 Dokumenty po istorii i kulture evreev v arkhivakh Moskvy: Putevoditel (Moskva: RGGU, 1997)
 Kupovetsky, Mark, Evgenii Starostin and Marek Web (eds.), Jewish Documentary Sources in Moscow Archives: A Guide (Moscow/New York: RSUH, JTS, YIVO, 1997)
 Sallis, Dorit and Marek Web (eds.), Jewish Documentary Sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus: A Preliminary List (New York: JTS, 1996)
 Elyasevich, D., Dokumentalnye materialy po istorii evreev v arkhivakh SNG i stranakh Baltii: predvaritelnyi spisok arkhivnykh fondov (Akropol, 1994)
 Aly, Götz and Susanne Heim, Das Zentrale Staatsarchiv in Moskau ("Sonderarchiv"): Rekonstruktion und Bestandsverzeichnis verschollen geglaubten Schriftguts aus der NS-Zeit (Düsseldorf, 1992).
EHRI established contact with central Russian archival authorities in order to facilitate future exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in the country, whose full extent and importance have yet to be determined. The selection of described collections was also based on the results of a joint survey of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem.
B. Characteristics of Russia’s archival system and specific challenges
The senior authority in the archival system of Russia is the Federal Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv). Only the federal archives are under its actual authority. In other words, only the archives situated in Moscow, such as State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI), and others. There are also ministerial archives, which are not subject to the authority of Rosarkhiv. Important examples include the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry (TsAMO) and the archives of the security services. The Regional Archives are only partially subordinated to the Rosarkhiv as they largely depend on the local authorities.
C. EHRI identification and description results on Russia
C.I. In Russia
Important Holocaust-related collections at the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF) include the files of the Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee files as well as the Nuremberg Collection. The Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) most importantly holds the files of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the General Headquarters of the Partisans in the Soviet Union, which contain reports on the occupied areas. Similar reports from the Red Army Main Political Directorate (GLAVPUR) records can be found at the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry (TsAMO), which also houses captured “trophy” documents mostly of German provenance. The Russian State Military Archive (RGVA) houses a large number of similarly captured collections. Regional archives hold local files generated by the abovementioned Extraordinary Commission as well as material from local occupation administrations.
EHRI has identified over 50 archival institutions which hold or are likely to hold Holocaust-relevant material in Russia. A dozen of them are concentrated in Moscow. Three more are located in cities near Moscow: Podolsk, Domodedovo and Krasnogorsk. A smaller cluster of relevant archival institutions is located in or near St. Petersburg. EHRI has also found that 14 other cities of the Russian Federation, mostly regional capitals or capitals of autonomous member-republics, have one State Archive and one Contemporary History Archive, which stems back to a former Communist Party Archive. EHRI has managed to provide collections descriptions for a number of these archives, which are located in Belgorod, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Krasnodar, Kursk, Nalchik, Pskov, Rostov, Smolensk, Stavropol, Tula, Tver, Volgograd, Voronezh. EHRI has also identified and, in some cases, described collections in archival institutions in the following cities: Bryansk, Birobidzhan, Cherkessk, Elista, Maykop, Novgorod, Orel, Penza, Taganrog, Ust-Labinsk, Yeysk.
C.II. In other countries
Outside of Russia, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections that are relevant to Holocaust research on Russia. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for instance, holds selected records from a number of Russian Federation archives, both capital and regional. In Israel, Yad Vashem also holds significant documentation from archives in Russia and a huge quantity of sources pertaining to Jewish individuals and/or groups during the Holocaust period.